Photo by Edgar Hoill aka OSOKILL
Any time I read the word "tattoo poll" -- or even worse "tat stats" -- I shake my curly red head and wonder how a passion for art can be quantified and put into nice info boxes for media consumption. But damn the media loves those statistics. They cite the same old tattoo polls from 2003 and 2008 by Harris Interactive in news pieces on the "tattoo trend." But now they no longer have to.
Today, Harris released their latest tattoo poll, which surveyed 2,016 American adults online between January 16 and 23, 2012. Here are some of the highlights from that survey (most are direct quotes):
* One in five U.S. adults has at least one tattoo (21%), which is up from 16% & 14% surveyed in 2003 and 2008, respectively.
* Those living on the West Coast have more tattoos (26%) than those on the East Coast (21%), the Midwest (21%) and the South (18%).
* Adults aged 30-39 are most likely to have a tattoo (38%) compared to both those younger (30% of those 25-29 and 22% of those 18-24) and older (27% of those 40-49, 11% of those 50-64 and just 5% of those 65 and older).
*Women are slightly more likely than men, for the first time since this question was first asked, to have a tattoo (now 23% versus 19%).
And here's where it gets sexy:
*Among those with a tattoo, most have never regretted getting a tattoo (86%) and three in ten say it makes them feel more sexy (30%). [Woohoo!] One-quarter say having a tattoo makes them feel rebellious (25%), 21% say both it makes them feel attractive or strong, 16% say it makes them feel spiritual and fewer say it makes them feel more healthy (9%), intelligent (8%) or athletic (5%).
And here's where it gets nasty:
While so many of us feel beautiful and sexy in our tattoos, it seems that many polled don't share this feeling. At least two in five say that people with tattoos are less attractive (45%) or sexy (39%). Not that we care really, but there are some numbers worth mentioning, particularly because certain stereotypes that still exist could potentially affect things like employment or admission to the country club.
* One-quarter say that people with tattoos are less intelligent (27%), healthy (25%) or spiritual (25%).
* Half of those without a tattoo say people with tattoos are more rebellious (50%).
I'm so rebellious, I'm writing this post pantsless.
See all the stats and charts here. There's also a PDF download of the survey.
I would have loved it if they asked poll takers whether the Ink shows, celebrities, merch and other elements of tattoos in pop culture affected their choices. Also curious about how people describe their collections; for example, whether they consider themselves "heavily" tattooed.
Feel free to post your thoughts on the survey in the Needles & Sins Facebook group.
The media just love the throw around tattoo statistics (no matter how outdated), but these stats do serve a purpose of forming some idea on the breadth of tattooing's popularity.
A more artful way to convey people's love for the craft is found in this infographic by Paul Marcinkowski, which was created as a student project at Academy Of Fine Arts in Lodz. Check Paul's Behance page for close-ups of the work.
And for more statistics, check The Vanishing Tattoo, who have been compiling tattoo data in one place since 1999.
Thanks, Mikey, for the link!
Our Dr. Lodder reminded me to share this sweet snippet from the NY Times Freakonomics blog:
David B. Wiseman, a psychologist, showed 128 undergraduate students photographs of tattooed and non-tattooed female models, described as "college instructors." He found that college students prefer tattoos: "Analyses indicated that the presence of tattoos was associated with some positive changes in ratings: students' motivation, being imaginative about assignments, and how likely students were to recommend her as an instructor."
Freakonomics had another post on tattoo statistics, which you can read here.
The latest issue of the Journal of Human Behavior and Evolution Society has an article entitled "Tattoo & Piercing as Signals of Biological Quality" based upon a study conducted by three researchers in the Anthropology departments at the Polish Academy of Science and The University of Wroclaw in Poland.
These researchers set out to prove the following:
"Since both tattoos and piercings can present health risks (e.g., due to blood-borne disease transmission risk), postulate that people who decide to have such a body decoration might have relatively higher biological quality and that tattoos/piercings can be an honest signal of genetic quality."
They found that tattooed and pierced men had significantly higher biological quality ... which I will assume will prompt y'all to give me a collective "DUH!" And how can I deny this when I wake up to the higher biological quality of Brian Grosz above (photographed before the second half sleeve by Mike Rubendall was done).
I wanted to find out more, so I bought the article ($30 for six pages!) so I can bring you the highlights of the study. Here we go:
* They based "biological quality" on levels of fluctuating asymmetry (FA) -- a low FA signals better symmetry, and therefore, higher hotness factor and what they call "good genes." Tattooed men (64 males recruited from two tattoo studios in Western Poland) had much lower FA than those men in the control group (38 male university students). BUT there was no significant difference in the female participants.
* People with tattoos are more likely to be more competitive, risk takers, and have a "less restricted sexual strategy" [read: we like f*cking?]
* Tattooed people, more than others, seek "uniqueness" and because this can be stressful than following social rules, "it is likely that mainly people with relatively high biological quality can afford such behavior."
* They also looked at whether people use body art to "to increase their own physical attractiveness or to hide some shortcomings in their appearance." They found no support for this for both sexes. The problem with this part of the study for me was the premises they based this on: finding no difference in self-ratings of attractiveness between the two groups, suggesting that way more men are tattooed than women in "western societies," and citing a non-scientific study conducted in the UK that claimed tattooed women are rated as less physically attractive than non-tattooed women.
First. recent statistics in the US, show almost an equal percentage of tattooed men and women. [The US doesn't make up all "western society" of course. It's just one indicator.]
As for attractiveness, well, that depends on who you ask. Unlike the FA test, this part of the study is subject to greater error.
For example, last year, I surveyed 561 people online from around the world for my Erotic Ink column on Suicide Girls and found that, while getting tattooed to become more attractive was not a factor for most -- in agreement with the Polish study -- most people did feel more attractive after getting tattooed. Also, tattooed women were rated as more attractive. Ok, I know. I wrote this for Suicide Girls, but my point being that attractiveness studies will differ depending on the culture of whom you're asking (as opposed to the biological measure of the FA tests).
In the end, I don't think we can read too much into a tattoo study done on a couple hundred people in one country, but it is nice to see the results come in favor of us for a change.
[Photograph by Maria Guido]
On Friday, we decided it was time to tell the world about Needles and Sins after amassing content for months, and in response to our mass mail, we're already feelin the love.
Maybe not to the extent as this couple -- tattooed by Noon of France -- but enough to inspire a redux of the 10 most popular posts, based on clicks and comments, for those new to the site.
If you want to slack off at work or enjoy your severance package with some tattoo goodness, the best way to navigate all posts is to either click the Category of your choice or hit up our Monthly Archives (both right).
To get you goin, here are the faves for each N+S blogger, starting with a post inspired by this heart tattoo:
Pat Sullivan hung out at Brooklyn's Tattoo Culture for weeks watching Noon work his "Art Brut" tattoo style before profiling him here. [We also call this style French Avant Garde of tattoo because the fresh, experimental work has been developed and refined in France and Francophone Belgium.]
Pat most recently had fun with tattoos in pop culture, deciding if Conan O'Brien did indeed get tattooed on air. Watch the video here.
Craig Dershowitz, our tattoo Jew, had one of the most linked posts on N+S ever: his provocative Q&A with Orthodox Rabbi Henry Harris. Craig not only put to rest the fallacy that you cannot be buried in a Jewish cemetery with a tattoo but also challenges the Rabbi to find the roots of tattoo prejudice in the community. It's a brilliant read worth further link love.
He also pokes fun at common motifs with his Top 5 Worst Jewish Tattoos including the Chai, The Hebrew letter representing long life. "Usually tattooed on the most unhealthy individuals."
Brian Grosz, N+S resident rockstar and founder of indie record label Lapdance Academy, took inspiration from Groucho Marx and Kermit the Frog in creating his own carny rendition of Lydia, The Tattoo Lady, a tune I guarantee you will not be able to get outta ya head for the rest of the day if you stream it here or download it for free here. His most brilliant find was digging up Lydia, The Tattooed Muppet video, one of the most beloved Kermie solos ever. Check it:
The other video Brian found that made us giggle is the Jon Stewart clip on Long Island seceding from New York, complete with tattoo "gun show."
Miguel Collins, long time tattoo blogger who is creating a documentary on tattoos in the Black community, not only offers up his perspective on tattoos and race -- for example in discussing the first magazine ever geared towards people of color, but also blogs on West Coast happenings from his Cali outpost, like an Evening with Horiyoshi III at Canvas LA.
My personal faves of Miguel's are his review of Margo DeMello's Bodies of Inscription,
one of the more recent publications to talk about race, class and "cultural appropriation" in tattooing. Also click on his Tattoo Statistics post for the most recent data on tattooed and pierced people in America.
Bobby Fisher. Ah, Bobby. The graff mag magistrate of Bombin just simply causes trouble and so we've locked him up in a Williamsburg hipster bowling alley and play Clap Your Hands & Say Yeah for hours on end, that is, until he learns to be a (dodge ball) team player.
As for me, the weekly news reviews remain a popular staple from my old Needled.com days, but my personal favorites are all about tattoo-related toys and gadgets, ala Totally Stylin Tattoos Barbie and the Tattoo Shop iPhone app -- both of which I own and play with regularly because, yes, I am a proud tattooed nerd.
If you've got a personal favorite or have ideas for posts you want to read in the future, let us know in the comments.
Ok, I'm off to work on the news.